We talk an awful lot about identity design here at Envy Creative; how a strong and cohesive visual language can help a business grow loyal customers, expand sales, and control the way they are perceived in the marketplace.  We believe that a well designed identity system can help any and every business.

Every so often we are presented with a nice example of effective identity design that illustrates to our clients just how important this step of the business process can be.  I’d like to share one of those examples with you today.  But first, let’s just start with a basic understanding of identity design.

I look at identity design like this; it’s every visual (for the sake of this article we’ll keep it to visual) representation of a business.  This includes obvious things like logos and wordmarks, color schemes, etc.  But, it also includes all the collateral associated with these things; brochures, business cards, web site, invoices, packaging, etc.  It’s these seemingly ordinary artifacts that your customers interact with every day.  A strong identity will unify the design of all these elements to communicate a singular brand message.

Now, to the example.  Let’s take something as ordinary as packaging.  Here we will look at the unboxing experience presented by two technology giants, Toshiba and Apple.  Each of these companies sell similar products at similar price points, but they are worlds apart with their design standards.

Apple has an incredibly strong brand language.  Most people know an Apple advertisement before they see a product or logo.  They recognize the typeface (Myriad), the tone of their visuals, the clean modernism of their aesthetic.  Their brand identity is clear, and it says “we are the best personal technology company”.  Let’s see how they apply this to their packaging.

Here is the box that holds a MacBook Pro laptop.  It’s clean, bright, and looks like an Apple product in every way.  A beautiful picture of the product is featured with their clean typeface.

And here is the Toshiba.  It’s in a cardboard box.  Sure, it’s screen printed with the logo, but it has a bunch of stickers on it.  The “Intel Inside” logo is more prominent than the Toshiba logo, which looks lost.  The “ingenious by design” is almost a joke.  A cardboard box is ingenious design?  No, it’s ugly.

When we open the boxes we see more of the same.  In the Apple box we a presented with a clean and beautiful presentation of the product.  The customer is confronted with the logo and the product, nothing else.  In the Toshiba we have some styrofoam and a mess of cables and papers.  Not very inspiring.

To me, the comparison communicates one thing loud and clear; Apple cares about presentation and Toshiba does not.  Toshiba’s offering is ordinary and this is what the customer will associate their products with.  Apple clearly thinks their product is deserving of a custom tailored package that reflects their commitment to quality.  Customers get this, and their happy to lay down some extra dough for that MacBook.

Now, you can write me off as an Apple fanboy, and that may be true.  I love their products.  They work great, last forever, and are backed by great service.  And, you know what?  I like that they care about their boxes.  I like that they care about the experience their customers will have when they first interact with that product that they laid down a heap of their hard-earned for.  That shows me that they are smarter, and I’m a fan of smart businesses.